Our Team

Arnold Sowell Jr.

Arnold Sowell Jr.

Executive Director

Adriana Sanchez-Ochoa

Adriana Sanchez-Ochoa

Deputy Director

Stacey Smith

Stacey Smith

Special Projects Director

David Weiskopf

David Weiskopf

Senior Policy Advisor

Brian Weinberger

Brian Weinberger

Senior Policy Advisor

Ken Spence

Ken Spence

Senior Policy Advisor

Annie Ndama

Annie Ndama

Policy Staff Assistant

Courtnie Thomas

Courtnie Thomas

HR Manager/Policy Advisor

Dustin Moon

Dustin Moon

Digital Manager

Elena Santamaria

Elena Santamaria

Policy Advisor

Kelly Groth

Kelly Groth

Policy Advisor

Milena Paez

Milena Paez

Communications Manager

Samantha Seng

Samantha Seng

Policy Advisor

Tiffany Germain

Tiffany Germain

Research & Policy Advisor

Arnold Sowell Jr.

Arnold Sowell Jr.

Executive Director

Arnie Sowell is the Executive Director of NextGen Policy. NextGen Policy (NGP) is a non-profit organization that works to advance progressive policy solutions across a range of areas — climate change, affordable housing, healthcare, education, criminal justice, immigration, mental health, voting rights, food insecurity, and income inequality.

Arnie manages the NGP team and coordinates their legislative, outreach, sponsorship, and programmatic activities, including their work on electric vehicles, renewable energy, drinking water, student loan debt, access to healthcare, and the 2020 Census.

Before joining NextGen, Arnie spent over two decades in the California State Assembly, serving as Policy Director for five Assembly Speakers. Prior to that, he held various positions in state and local government including as Undersecretary of the State and Consumer Services Agency during the Governor Davis Administration. Arnie started his career in the Legislative Analyst’s Office.

He is the proud father of three, a new grandfather, an Oregon State alum, and holds a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Washington.

Pronouns:  He, Him, His

Adriana Sanchez-Ochoa

Adriana Sanchez-Ochoa

Deputy Director

Adriana is the Deputy Director of NextGen Policy and directly assists in team management and daily operations. Her policy areas of emphasis include: immigration, women’s issues, environmental justice (e.g. drinking water in communities of color). She also serves as the NGP liaison to the ethnic, women’s, and LGBT caucuses of the CA state legislature.

Before joining the NextGen Policy team in 2016, Adriana spent 18 years working in the California Legislature. She worked for four Assembly Speakers. Her last job with the Assembly was as Director of International Relations and Protocol for the Speaker. She has worked extensively with the California Latino Caucus in various capacities.

She also has experience in the Assembly as a Chief of Staff and Principal Consultant. She attended UC Davis and studied International Relations and Political Science. She is the proud mother of three daughters and has two beautiful grandchildren. She is a proud immigrant and is fully bilingual in Spanish.

Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

Stacey Smith

Stacey Smith

Special Projects Director

Stacey serves as the Special Projects Director for NextGen Policy, assisting with team management and advocacy work, and handles policy work for veterans issues.  She previously worked for NextGen America as Director of Outreach, managing legislative advocacy and the California political team’s electoral work in seven Congressional Districts that flipped from red to blue in 2018.

Prior to NextGen, Stacey was the Deputy State Director and State Press Liaison for United States Senator Barbara Boxer (D- CA), serving as the Senator’s liaison in northern California, overseeing six field offices, and managing press events across California.

Stacey proudly attended public schools from kindergarten through college and holds a BA in Government-Journalism from California State University, Sacramento.  In her personal time she enjoys exploring California with her husband and two young sons, and coaching youth soccer.

Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

David Weiskopf

David Weiskopf

Senior Policy Advisor

Dave is a Senior Policy Advisor for issue areas addressing climate change, clean energy, and ending our dependence on fossil fuels with policy solutions that prioritize social equity and environmental integrity.

Prior to joining NextGen Policy, Dave advocated for clean energy and energy efficiency with Midwestern electric utilities and governments. David is originally from St. Louis, Missouri and currently lives in Sacramento. He holds a JD from Stanford Law School, an MS from Stanford School of Earth Sciences, and an MA in Philosophy from Catholic University of America. He is a member of the CA and IL State Bars.

Brian Weinberger

Brian Weinberger

Senior Policy Advisor

Brian works on issues relating to state finance, housing, and infrastructure policy. Before coming to NextGen Policy, Brian worked for 11 years as a consultant to the California State Senate Committee on Governance and Finance, where he worked on legislation affecting state and local finance, land use planning and development, and the governance of cities, counties, special districts.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and a master’s degree in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government.

Pronouns:  He, Him, His

Ken Spence

Ken Spence

Senior Policy Advisor

Ken joined NextGen Policy in March 2019 and works on criminal justice, consumer financial protection, and public banking. Before joining NextGen, Ken was Director of Policy and Legislation at the Department of Pesticide Regulation, Deputy Director of the Senate Office of Research, and a consultant in the Speaker of the Assembly’s Office, covering public safety budget and the Select Committee on Boys and Men of Color.

Ken earned a doctorate in Entomology from UC Davis, and a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Spanish from Morehouse College. He loves traveling, yard-farming, and outdoor activities.

Pronouns: He, Him, His

Annie Ndama

Annie Ndama

Policy Staff Assistant

Annie supports the team in various policy and research capacities. She joined NextGen Policy in March 2019 as a policy intern, assisting in monitoring healthcare, housing, and higher education initiatives.

Prior to joining NextGen, Annie worked as a certified autism technician, providing behavioral therapy and parent training for children on the spectrum. She is a proud immigrant, a recent graduate from Sacramento State University, and holds a BA in Sociology.

Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

Courtnie Thomas

Courtnie Thomas

HR Manager/Policy Advisor

Courtnie covers mental health policy at NextGen. Her work includes coalition building, advocacy, and most importantly listening to those who have lived experiences in this space.

She joined NextGen after working for various Speakers and Assemblymembers in the California State Assembly. Prior to working in the State Capitol, Courtnie came from the local government world of Sacramento City Hall, where she honed her compassion, integrity, and desire to help the Oak Park neighborhood where she grew up.

She is a proud first-generation college graduate, a proud daughter of a single mother and a proud mother of a wonderful child.

Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

Dustin Moon

Dustin Moon

Digital Manager

Dustin is the Digital Manager at NextGen Policy. He is an experienced communications professional specializing in digital management and digital content for Facebook, Twitter, and organizational websites including graphics, still photography, and video.

Prior to working for NextGen, Dustin worked in the public sector managing digital strategies that effectively communicated organizational messaging. He holds a BA in Communication Design from Chico State and enjoys spending his time away from the office with his wife and two-year-old daughter.

Pronouns: He, Him, His

Elena Santamaria

Elena Santamaria

Policy Advisor

Elena Santamaria was born and raised in San Jose. As a Policy Advisor for the organization, Elena specializes in health, human services, and homelessness issues. Whether the organization is advocating to defend the Affordable Care Act, providing legal services to undocumented communities, ensuring patients have access to affordable prescription drugs or promoting progressive healthcare policies nationally and in California.

Prior to working at NextGen Policy, Elena worked at the California State Legislature for a variety of Assembly Members while intermittently working on legislative campaigns with the California Democratic Party.

Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

Kelly Groth

Kelly Groth

Policy Advisor

Kelly focuses on voting rights, democracy, and the 2020 Census for NextGen Policy. Previously, she managed NextGen America’s programmatic and operating budgets. A seasoned political operative in San Francisco, Kelly has a background in community outreach and campaign strategy.

Kelly holds a BA in Philosophy from San Francisco State University, and an MA in Environmental Sustainability from the University of Oregon.

Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

Milena Paez

Milena Paez

Communications Manager

Milena manages strategic communication campaigns to amplify the organization’s robust policy and community engagement initiatives. She administers all press and media communications, and supervises the digital outreach program.

She began her career community organizing in rural Central America as program supervisor for an international non-profit, Amigos de las Americas which sparked her passion for civic engagement. Prior to joining NextGen Policy, she worked on outreach and communications priorities for the California Secretary of State and California Assembly Speaker’s Office. Milena holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Political Science from CSU Sacramento and was a 2017 HOPE Leadership Institute Fellow. Se habla español.

Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

Samantha Seng

Samantha Seng

Policy Advisor

Samantha covers education policy – early childhood, K – 12th grade, and higher education for NextGen Policy. Her work includes building coalitions and advocating for policies that promote prosperity for students at every stage of their educational careers.

She joined NextGen after working for various Assemblymembers in the California State Assembly. Before moving to Sacramento, Samantha came from the non-profit sector, teaching, mentoring, and tutoring low-income and at-promise youth throughout the Bay Area.

She is a proud daughter of immigrants, a first-generation college graduate, and the first in her family to hold a Master’s Degree – in Education from Lesley University.

Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

Tiffany Germain

Tiffany Germain

Research & Policy Advisor

Tiffany specializes in high-level public policy and political research for the organization. She also focuses on leading policy initiatives surrounding California’s fight against food insecurity.

Before joining NextGen Policy, Tiffany was the Deputy Research Director at NextGen America, where she focused on statewide and national races. Prior to her work at NextGen, she served as Research Manager for the Center for American Progress Action Fund in Washington, D.C., and worked on the Capitol Hill for United States Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC), proudly working for the people of her home state of North Carolina.

Tiffany holds a BA in Political Science from East Carolina University and an MA in Public Management from Johns Hopkins University.

Pronouns: She, Her, Hers